Campus Cooking is Recipe for Success

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Success storiesTrainee chefs have completed a unique course which saw them work in a college kitchen to serve thousands of meals to hungry students and lecturers.

Thirty nine hospitality and catering graduates marked the end of the first year of an innovative, college kitchen experience which saw them plan, prepare, cook and serve up to 400 breakfasts, lunches and evening meals every day at Perth College UHI in partnership with Sodexo, a leading facilities management services provider, which is the college’s caterer.

Now the aspiring hospitality operatives and chefs hope the perfect blend of certified qualifications and vital hands-on experience will help them get top jobs across Scotland and beyond.

A series of courses have been pioneered by Sodexo and Perth College UHI, which has seen considerable investment by both partners to develop a live catering environment to train students.


Sodexo runs and operates all catering and hospitality services on the campus and, with the College, has jointly invested in upgrading the facilities and in rebranding the traditional college canteen into a modern Food Court.

The main thrust of the joint programme is to give catering and hospitality students live experience of the pressures and demands of working in a busy kitchen under the guidance of seasoned professionals, to ensure they are ‘work ready’.

Alan Tonks, executive chef, Sodexo Scotland, said: “We’re all delighted to see the first crop of young talent finish the course and collect their hard-earned qualifications. Congratulations are due to all of them. The talent and commitment on show was extremely high.

“The partnership we’ve forged with the college and the course lecturers has been excellent. In addition we’ve worked closely to ensure the menu has been tailored to meet the curriculum needs for all levels of hospitality courses.

“The feedback from the students involved has been overwhelmingly positive. Meanwhile, the quality of the food and the new Food Court experience has been praised by those on campus, including students, staff and visitors.

“Overall I think everyone involved should be very proud of what has been achieved in this first year and look forward to developing further to make Perth College UHI a real name to be reckoned with in the hospitality sector.”


Each of the students complete a full working shift in the kitchen from 8am to 9pm which means they experience, breakfast, lunch and dinner service, with those on the SVQ Level 1 course working one day a week and those on the SVQ Level 2 course working two days a week.

Students who completed the course last week (Thu, May 28) were awarded SVQ level 1 Hospitality Services and SVQ level 2 Professional Chef Award courses.

Dr Thomas Moore, principal of Perth College UHI, presented each student with dual award certificates, from the College and Sodexo, detailing achievements, which include practical skills, team building, industry awareness and customer service skills.

To mark the occasion friends and family of the students and a number of key staff from Sodexo were invited to attend an end of year awards ceremony at the College – where they were served a delicious afternoon tea prepared and served by the students.

Catherine Etri, head of Curriculum, Business Management, Computing and Leisure at Perth College UHI, said: “Allowing the students to prepare the hospitality for family and friends seem the ideal way to mark their achievements and made for an even more enjoyable day.

“As a College, we are understandably delighted to be offering this training resource and opportunity to our students, both for the experience it gives them and the added advantage they will undoubtedly have entering the jobs market.


The partnership with Sodexo is unique in Scotland and the College and Sodexo team who have contributed to its development, have applied persistence, dedication and hard work to ensure it is a success.”

Students also participated in the prestigious Sodexo Salon Culinaire competition, where they were up against Sodexo professionals. Ian Gibb, the hospitality subject leader, praised the students’ considerable achievements in their first national competition, reporting that the students won one gold, three sliver, two bronze medals and four certificates of merit.

On an annual basis, Sodexo has agreed to provide a £1000 scholarship for a worthy student and have invested a full time internship for the best overall student. This year’s winner, Steven Johnston, will be involved in mentoring the new student group who will commence their training in September 2013.

In Scotland, Sodexo employs a 1000-strong team providing catering and a wide range of facilities management services at more than 100 locations, including schools, colleges, universities, business and industry sites, castles and football clubs.

Sodexo in Scotland has retained its Healthy Living Award every year since 2008 and was named the Best Group Caterer in Scotland for a third consecutive year in the Best Employers in the 2012 Hospitality Awards.

PR support for Sodexo in Scotland is provided by award-winning PR agency, Holyrood PR.

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